Exploring the New Frontier of Front-End Development

Last week it was our pleasure to host another meeting of the Toledo Web Professionals. Over 25 members of the local web development community joined us April 9 in the Hanson Treehouse for pizza and a presentation by our Director of Front-End Development, Dave Rodriguez, on “Front-End Development: IN SPAAAAAACE!”

Last week it was our pleasure to host another meeting of the Toledo Web Professionals. Over 25 members of the local web development community joined us April 9 in the Hanson Treehouse for pizza and a presentation by our Director of Front-End Development, Dave Rodriguez, on “Front-End Development: IN SPAAAAAACE!”

Front-End Development is a fairly new discipline, having recently split off from what we used to call simply “web design.” Today’s browsers are increasingly powerful and complex, and the skillset needed to build the interfaces of sites has grown and changed. Dave’s presentation compared diving into the complicated world of front-end development to going into space for the first time. He began by telling overwhelmed developers, “Don’t panic!”

The first half of his presentation, “Harness the Power of Robots,” addressed new industry-standard tools to make workflow faster and automate repetitive tasks. Among the tools and techniques he covered were Node/NPM, installing dependencies with Bower, and task runners including Grunt and Gulp.

Dave called the second part of his presentation “Build and Operate Your Own Spacecraft for Fun and Profit.” With robots handling the repetitive build tasks, he said, the empowered developer is free to explore better ways to structure and build web applications. Dave demonstrated how to quickly scaffold a web application with Yeoman and manage dependencies with Require.js, then showed off one of Hanson’s recent projects, which combines several of these techniques and adds a front-end templating tool called Handlebars to build powerful, flexible interfaces with data pulled from web services. He also reviewed using JSDoc to generate project documentation.

Dave left the audience with two tips: Spend less time doing robot work, and spend more time exploring.

You can walk yourself through the presentation here, and visit Dave’s blog for detailed notes and links.

Our thanks goes out to the Toledo Web Professionals for giving us another opportunity to host and speak, and to everyone who attended and made this month’s meeting a success. We encourage Toledo-area developers to join the Meetup group for more news about upcoming TWP events.

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